October 3rd, 2013 Instructional Design

thinking-itOne of the biggest challenges any instructional designer faces when creating training programs is to maximize the chances that the content is internalized by the learner.

Here is one method that you can use to help learners remember (and perhaps use) the content of your training. You can use this in both a virtual or live training setting.

It is a bit more challenging to accomplish through straight elearning channels, but not impossible:

1. Flip-It First

The flipped-classroom model is gaining in popularity both in a classroom and corporate setting. The idea behind this approach is to give the learner some sort of assignment as the first learning experience, prior to the actual training. It gives the learner an opportunity to collect content based on the topic.

This can take many forms, including reading some sort of case study, watching a video online, listening to presentation, or basic wiki-research.

2. Determine Knowledge Baseline

Every learner is different, and their participation in the assignment from the first step will vary. Some will really immerse themselves into the process while other will not. When all the learners are together (either in person or virtually), try creating an environment where they can share what it is they know with the others.

Having each person present is probably not the most effective approach for this part. Instead, figure a way to get them into groups so that they can collectively share their knowledge – and then have one spokesperson for the group present to the others.

3. Expand upon their Knowledge

With a baseline in place, it’s now time to expand upon the content. The best way to do this is to ask questions based on the “reports” from the groups. Ask other groups what they think about one group’s approach. Ask for demonstrations and scenarios.

4. Application of the Content

Now that the content has be thoroughly researched, discussed, questioned, and expanded, it is time to for the learners to apply it. To do this, give them some sort of challenge. It can be an exercise, case study, multi-day in nature (if possible). Whatever the challenge is, it needs to relate to the subject at hand and draw upon, or expand, the topic.


This four-step method is a great way to let the learner “take control” over their learning, however it does come with natural downsides. In particular, in-group bias is always something that needs to be monitored, as well as “social-loafing”. It is easy for learners to become lazy as more active participants dominate the forum.


Mia MacMeekin

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


2 responses

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Thanks for the useful information. I can identify some of these techniques in school textbooks. I will find the techniques much more useful in textbooks after recognizing them. Thanks again.

Avatar Charlie

Great to hear, thanks Charlie!

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